– Atlantic General Hospital and Health System, along with its partners,
the Herschel S. Horowitz Center for Health Literacy at the University
of Maryland (UMD) College Park School of Public Health and Worcester County
Public Schools (WCPS), continue to make measurable improvements in the
health literacy levels of middle school students in Worcester County.
Health literacy is measured by an individual’s ability to obtain,
process and understand basic health information and services needed to
make appropriate health decisions. A high level of health literacy is
crucial to achieving a healthy lifestyle and properly utilizing healthcare services.
Integrated Health Literacy Program (IHLP) standards help guide teachers
in developing lesson plans for core area classrooms (math, reading language
arts, science, and social studies) that include basic health literacy
concepts and skills. The integrated lessons vary depending on grade level
that the program is implemented.
Lesson topics include calculating calorie intake based upon information
on a food label during a mathematics class or discussing the harmful effects
of e-cigarette use in science class. During the 2017-2018 school year,
seventh and eighth grade teachers at all of Worcester County’s public
schools rolled out the IHLP within their core area classrooms.
With the completion of the 2017-2018 school year, the IHLP is now integrated
into every WCPS, first through eighth grade. The results for the 2017-2018
school year demonstrate the positive impact of the program.
In grade seven, the average health literacy scores increased from pre-test
to post-test. Both 7th and 8th grade showed increasing scores when asked mathematical questions regarding
health facts and nutrition labels. Other findings:
7th graders’ average health literacy score significantly increased from
pre-test to post-test.
There was a statistically significant increase in the percentage of 7th grade students who moved from lower health literacy to higher health literacy
from pre- to post-test.
At post-test, 72.1 percent of 7th grade students reported being extremely confident to say “no”
when a friend is pressuring them to drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes.
This represents a significant increase in confidence from the pre-test.
- Eighth grade had demonstrated improvement in their self-confidence for
making healthy decisions. At post-test, 64.3 percent of the students answered
the following question correctly: “if you could only eat 60 grams
of carbohydrates per day, what is the maximum amount of ice cream per
day you could eat?” This is an increase of nearly 10 percentage
points over pre-test scores.
8th graders showed a significant increase in talking about safety on the Internet
with family and friends from pre- to post-test.
The next steps for the program include a senior health literacy survey
for all 12th grade students of Worcester County Public Schools. The survey
is in development with our IHLP partners, UMD Herschel S. Horowitz Center
for Health Literacy and WCPS. The purpose of the survey is to determine
the long-term effectiveness of the IHLP. Improving health literacy for
the next generation will address the health needs in the community by
reducing their risk of poor health outcomes, decreasing unnecessary visits
to the emergency room and increasing their ability to access appropriate
care. To learn more about the health literacy program please visit
About Atlantic General Hospital
Atlantic General Hospital has been providing quality health care to the
residents of Worcester, Wicomico, Somerset (Md.) and Sussex (Del.) counties
since May 1993. Built by the commitment and generosity of a dedicated
community, the hospital’s state-of-the-art facility in Berlin, Md.,
combines old-fashioned personal attention with the latest in technology
and services. It provides quality specialty care such as weight loss surgery,
orthopedics, outpatient infusion and chemotherapy for individuals with
cancer or blood/autoimmune disorders, and a comprehensive women’s
diagnostic center. Atlantic General Health System, its network of more
than 40 primary care providers and specialists, care for residents and
visitors throughout the region. For more information about Atlantic General